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New Organizing Institute Changes Leadership

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, January 8 2013

Judith Freeman, one of the co-founders of the left-leaning New Organizing Institute In Washington, D.C. is leaving her post as its executive director at the end of March. She will be succeeded by the self-described "political data dude" Ethan Roeder, who most recently served as director of data on President Obama's re-election campaign.

Roeder starts his new gig March 4, but Freeman will stay on until the end of the month to manage the transition, said Evan Sutton, NOI's communications director. Freeman will stay on NOI's board, but is taking some time off.

Freeman founded NOI along with fellow progressive organizer Zach Exley in 2005 after organizing a retreat the prior year of top political organizers. Through its signature Rootscamp unconferences, the group has trained hundreds if not thousands of political organizers. More than 2,000 people attended the latest Rootscamp in late November, and President Obama's Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett made an appearance at the event to appeal to the crowd to support the president in his negotiations over the fiscal cliff.

Describing what it does on its web site, NOI says: "We train organizers to build and manage effective movements by integrating tried-and-true community organizing, cutting-edge digital strategy, and data-driven decision making," and "We provide free access to revolutionary tools, technologies, and research to help campaigns reach the next level. And we build a community of practice that connects organizers across issues, creating a more integrated, more diverse, and more dynamic movement for change."

NOI has grown to become an institution in Democratic politics, helping to create an organizational infrastructure that is the envy of the right, as evidenced by digital political operative Patrick Ruffini's presence at Rootscamp in November.

In addition to training organizers, under Freeman's tenure NOI has also created a raft of tools that have laid the foundations for other innovations. For example, with partners, it created the Voting Information Project and the Ballot Information Project, which powered TheBallot.org and some of the development on DemDash. Last July, it also published a 210-page training manuel titled "Campaigning to Engage and Win: A Guide to Leading Electorial Campaigns."

Roeder is an alumni of NOI. Between 2009 and 2011 he was NOI's director of data and technology.

This post has been updated to fix a typo.

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